EAGLE — On Veterans Day, retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jesse Cottle and his family received a brand-new home provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Monday’s ceremony put a spotlight on Cottle, who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2009. He lost both of his legs just above the knee.
Cottle, a husband and father to two young daughters, suffers from bouts of depression and anger after his injuries. But he told the 100-plus people gathered to celebrate the opening of his family’s new home in Eagle that the house would make his life easier.
“A nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten,” he said.
The family’s new house was built with Cottle’s mobility in mind. The house is one story, with wide hallways and easily accessible storage. An iPad controls the lights, thermostat, security system and an array of other electronics. A baby grand piano sits in the family room where Cottle, who’s played the piano since he was 5 years old, can play whenever he desires.
“I couldn’t really put it into words,” he said about receiving the home. “It blew us away. We’re excited about 100 things.”
Cottle grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado, and joined Marine Corps in 2003, inspired by his father’s service and 9/11, according to a press release from the Sinise Foundation. He had to undergo seven surgeries at the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland before he was sent for rehabilitation to San Diego, where he met his wife, Kelly. The two bounced around the nation before deciding to settle in Eagle with their two daughters.
With help from the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program, they were able to settle in a brand-new home Monday.
Sinise, an actor, created the foundation after he was nominated for an Oscar for his role playing a paraplegic Vietnam veteran, Lt. Dan Taylor, in the movie “Forrest Gump.”
The Gary Sinise Foundation helped bring together contractors, materials, laborers and funding to build the Cottles’ home. Conceived of by Sinise as a way to give independence back to soldiers dealing with the wounds of war, his foundation has completed or is in the process of building 77 homes for veterans all over the country.
“It’s about restoring their independence,” R.I.S.E Director of Operations Scott Schaeperkoetter said.
Schaeperkoetter has worked for the foundation for seven years, building accessible homes for veterans.
The Cottles will not need to pay anything for the house other than maintenance fees for their first 10 years in the home, said Elizabeth Fields, chief operations officer of the foundation. The home is held in a trust by the foundation for the first decade, and then the title is given to the family.
In a letter to the family, Sinise said it was his “great privilege” to have helped provide a home for the Cottles.
“Welcome home, my friend,” he wrote.